An ombudsman (English plural: conventionally ombudsmen) is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some external constituency while representing the broad scope of constituent interests.

Usually appointed by the organization, but sometimes elected by the constituency, the ombudsman may, for example, investigate constituent complaints relating to the organization and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations (binding or not) or mediation. Ombudsmen sometimes identifies organizational roadblocks running counter to constituent interests.

In some jurisdictions an ombudsman charged with the handling of concerns about national government is more formally referred to as the ‘Parliamentary Commissioner’ (e.g., the United Kingdom Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, and the Western Australian state Ombudsman). The word ombudsman and its specific meaning have been adopted in various languages, including Spanish and Czech. The post of ombudsman has been instituted by other governments and organizations such as the European Union.

An ombudsman may not be appointed by a legislature, but may instead be appointed by, or even work for, a corporation such as a utility supplier or a newspaper, for an NGO, for a professional regulatory body, or for local or municipal government.

In some countries an Inspector General may have duties similar to or overlapping with an ombudsman appointed by the legislature.

Making a complaint to an ombudsman is usually free of charge.


What Ombudsman do you need?

“I was involved in the first days of the Ombudsman’s office. I headed the area in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet that was administratively responsible for the Ombudsman’s office. I was confident that the Ombudsman’s office would be an effective watchdog against maladministration. I believe it was in its early days. Twenty five years later, I am less confident.”

See: Beware honesty: one person’s saga with Centrelink, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Director of Public Prosecutions by Ian Cunliffe

2009-06-02 Ombudsman

The Workplace Ombudsman is planning on using social networking websites to try to track down people who have unclaimed wages.

The Ombudsman’s office has a trust with $860,000 it has collected from employers who have underpaid their staff.

The office is trying to track down the quarter of a million people the money belongs to.

Workplace Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson has told a Senate committee his office is trying all sorts of methods to get the money back to workers.

Register and lodge online Claim Form

See: Full Story

Footnote Dec 2009: Website seems flawed. After registering. Missing image on right. When attempting to aquire complaint form. It is served as a PDF file rather than a form. But PDF file has an error in it and cannot be loaded.

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